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11 prospects who should dominate the scouting combine drills

Touchdown Wire logo Touchdown Wire 2/27/2020 Doug Farrar
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INDIANAPOLIS — People in and out of the NFL have denigrated the scouting combine drills as the “Underwear Olympics” for years, but those same people are sure on hand when it comes time for prospects to go through those drills every year. And yes, draft decisions are made on a guy’s 40-yard-dash time, broad jump, and bench press numbers more than some would have you believe.

There are a number of new drills this year, created and enacted to more closely mirror the on-field experience. Whether it’s old-school or new-wave stuff, here are 11 prospects who could really stand out at the 2020 combine.

Jordan Love | Raymond Calais | LeVante Bellamy | Henry Ruggs III | Jalen Reagor | Tristan Wirfs | Neville Gallimore | K’Lavon Chaisson | Isaiah Simmons | Kyle Dugger | Jeffrey Okudah

Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

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Some evaluators have Love, who experienced an efficiency downturn in 2019 with 17 interceptions against 20 touchdown passes after a 32-touchdown, six-interception 2018, as a possible Next Patrick Mahomes based on his arm strength and athleticism. I believe there are too many legitimate questions about Love’s mechanics and overall form to make such comparisons just yet, but there’s absolutely no question that Love can sling the ball around. In the friendly confines of Lucas Oil Stadium, where he’ll be throwing different routes without any defensive pressure, Love could make a great impression on scouts, coaches, and personnel people who are already halfway to making that comparison in their minds.

“The most important thing to be is to be more consistent,” Love said this week about his own game. “You watch my film, there are some plays where I make an incredible throw, and the next thing you know, I miss a swing route on a checkdown. Being more consistent in all my throws, my footwork, in the pocket, under center, doing dropbacks and things like that. It’s something I’ve practiced since the season ended.”

Love should reap the benefits of that practice in the quarterback drills.

Jordan Love | Raymond Calais | LeVante Bellamy | Henry Ruggs III | Jalen Reagor | Tristan Wirfs | Neville Gallimore | K’Lavon Chaisson | Isaiah Simmons | Kyle Dugger | Jeffrey Okudah

Raymond Calais, RB, Louisiana-Lafayette

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As Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network pointed out, Calais, who averaged 7.8 yards per carry and 8.5 yards per catch in his collegiate career, was the 2016 Louisiana Track & Field Athlete of the Year, winning the 100-meter and 200-meter runs, as well as the 4-by-100-meter and 4-by-200-meter relays, at the state meet. Calais has been timed in the 4.3 region in his pre-combine 40-yard preparations, and he’s got a great opportunity to burn up the track on Friday, and show NFL teams that his speed is more than a thing that shows up against mid-level college competition.

Jordan Love | Raymond Calais | LeVante Bellamy | Henry Ruggs III | Jalen Reagor | Tristan Wirfs | Neville Gallimore | K’Lavon Chaisson | Isaiah Simmons | Kyle Dugger | Jeffrey Okudah

LeVante Bellamy, RB, Western Michigan

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The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman has Bellamy as his sleeper pick to break the 4.3 mark in the 40-yard dash, and the on-field speed is certainly compelling. Bellamy scored 23 rushing touchdowns for the Broncos in 2019, and per Feldman, the MAC Offensive Player of the Year had a pre-combine vertical jump of 41.5 inches last season, and has run a laser-timed 4.28 40-yard dash.

Jordan Love | Raymond Calais | LeVante Bellamy | Henry Ruggs III | Jalen Reagor | Tristan Wirfs | Neville Gallimore | K’Lavon Chaisson | Isaiah Simmons | Kyle Dugger | Jeffrey Okudah

Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

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Ruggs is the odds-on favorite to break Ross’s 4.22 40-yard dash time if anyone does it in this combine, and when you watch him zoom past cornerbacks on deep routes and take simple receiver screens to the house, it’s an easy pick. Ruggs has already been timed in the mid-4.2s pre-combine.  Ruggs said this week that he wants to be known as more than a speed guy, and that also shows up on tape, but when he gets ready to run his 40 (and, if he breaks Ross’s record, throw the finger up in celebration, as he said), it’ll be must-see TV.

Jordan Love | Raymond Calais | LeVante Bellamy | Henry Ruggs III | Jalen Reagor | Tristan Wirfs | Neville Gallimore | K’Lavon Chaisson | Isaiah Simmons | Kyle Dugger | Jeffrey Okudah

Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU

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Not only has Reagor been timed in the 4.3s pre-combine, he’s a potentially electric deep threat who could easily get a top-50 grade from a lot of people if he’s able to lap the field in the 40 and other drills. Reagor’s production didn’t match his athleticism at TCU for a number of reasons, and most of those reasons were beyond his control. But he is a fascinating prospect for those teams looking to replicate what the 49ers did with Deebo Samuel last season on everything from deep posts to jet sweeps.

Jordan Love | Raymond Calais | LeVante Bellamy | Henry Ruggs III | Jalen Reagor | Tristan Wirfs | Neville Gallimore | K’Lavon Chaisson | Isaiah Simmons | Kyle Dugger | Jeffrey Okudah

Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa

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Wirfs has had a vertical jump of 35 inches and has broad-jumped 9’5″, so he’ll likely look good in a number of drills. But it’s Wirfs’ weightlifting background that has some believing he could break the record Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea put up in 2011 when he benched 225 pounds 49 times. Wirfs’ strength also shows up on the field, but it should be especially evident when it’s time to bang out those reps.

Jordan Love | Raymond Calais | LeVante Bellamy | Henry Ruggs III | Jalen Reagor | Tristan Wirfs | Neville Gallimore | K’Lavon Chaisson | Isaiah Simmons | Kyle Dugger | Jeffrey Okudah

Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma

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At 6-foot-2 and 304 pounds, Gallimore has bench-pressed 500 pounds, squatted 800, and cleaned 405, so he should be good on any strength drills. But it’s the 40 you should watch here — he ran a 4.76 40 in 2019 that, per Bruce Feldman of The Athletic, Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley wouldn’t have believed if he hadn’t seen it.

Jordan Love | Raymond Calais | LeVante Bellamy | Henry Ruggs III | Jalen Reagor | Tristan Wirfs | Neville Gallimore | K’Lavon Chaisson | Isaiah Simmons | Kyle Dugger | Jeffrey Okudah

K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE, LSU

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Chaisson broke out with a 13.5-sack season in 2019, based to a great extent on ridiculous athleticism that has allowed him to foil most collegiate blockers despite his unfinished palette of pass-rush moves. Getting him up to speed at the NFL level and turning him into the next Danielle Hunter as opposed to the next Barkevious Mingo will be the task of his NFL coaching staff, but if Chaisson is able to parlay his speed and quickness into the kinds of drill times one would expect, he could easily see himself as a top-15 prospect.

Jordan Love | Raymond Calais | LeVante Bellamy | Henry Ruggs III | Jalen Reagor | Tristan Wirfs | Neville Gallimore | K’Lavon Chaisson | Isaiah Simmons | Kyle Dugger | Jeffrey Okudah

Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

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Simmons is the most effectively versatile defensive prospect in this draft class, as he proved in 2019 by playing 299 snaps in the box, 262 snaps at slot cornerback, 132 snaps at free safety, and 116 snaps at defensive line. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Simmons has been compared to everyone from Kwon Alexander to Derwin James, which goes to show you how respected he is as a multi-position player. He could run his 40-yard-dash in the 4.4 range, and add a 40-inch vertical and 11-foot broad jump, and find himself in the top three to five picks.

Jordan Love | Raymond Calais | LeVante Bellamy | Henry Ruggs III | Jalen Reagor | Tristan Wirfs | Neville Gallimore | K’Lavon Chaisson | Isaiah Simmons | Kyle Dugger | Jeffrey Okudah

Kyle Dugger, S/LB, Lenoir-Rhyne

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Hyped before his Senior Bowl week as one of the most ferocious athletes in this draft class, Dugger did nothing to dispel those thoughts with a good showing in Mobile. At 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, Dugger fits the modern paradigm of the hybrid linebacker/safety both in size and playing style, and he’s done enough good things against stronger opponents than North Greenesville and Mars Hill. He has the potential to run in the low 4.4s in Indianapolis, by all accounts, adding to a profile that has been trending up for a while now.

Jordan Love | Raymond Calais | LeVante Bellamy | Henry Ruggs III | Jalen Reagor | Tristan Wirfs | Neville Gallimore | K’Lavon Chaisson | Isaiah Simmons | Kyle Dugger | Jeffrey Okudah

Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State

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Not that Okudah needs a killer combine to impact his draft stock — I recently mocked him to the Redskins with the second overall pick, and you’d have to go a ways to find a mock that doesn’t have him in the top five. Okudah fits the profile of the modern boundary cornerback to a “T.” But if he’s able to run in the low 4.3s, as some believe he might, that’ll likely make him the most coveted defensive player in this class not named Chase Young.

Jordan Love | Raymond Calais | LeVante Bellamy | Henry Ruggs III | Jalen Reagor | Tristan Wirfs | Neville Gallimore | K’Lavon Chaisson | Isaiah Simmons | Kyle Dugger | Jeffrey Okudah

Touchdown Wire editor Doug Farrar previously covered football for Yahoo! Sports, Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report, the Washington Post, and Football Outsiders. His first book, “The Genius of Desperation,” a schematic history of professional football, was published by Triumph Books in 2018 and won the Professional Football Researchers Association’s Nelson Ross Award for “Outstanding recent achievement in pro football research and historiography.”

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